Tag Archives: teen drug abuse

Risks for Teens with Alcoholism or Drug Addiction

The risks of teen drinking and drug use have never been more obvious. Brain scans are starting to reveal the effect that heavy alcohol and drug use can have on growing brains. Telling teens about this risk isn’t just about keeping them out of trouble; it’s about preventing totally preventable problems. A conversation about what drugs do the brain and body may be one of the most important one you ever have with your teenager.

Damage to the Developing Teen Brain

HEALTH Alcohol 120261Brain scans say it all. Drinking and drug use can literally change an adolescent’s brain before it is completely developed. Binge drinking in particular can do enough damage to be seen on a brain scan. The neural connections created during adolescence can be damaged or never created. The human brain doesn’t completely finish its development until a person is in their mid-twenties.

While the brain can continue to grow new connections throughout life, the biggest growth spurt is over by this time. That may explain how young adults seem to grow up and settle down somewhere near their twenty-fifth birthday. The frontal cortex, the last area to develop, gives humans the ability to distinguish good and bad choices, compare and contrast things, develop social awareness, and retain long-term emotional memories.

Drugs Affect Decision Making and Impulse Control

Judgment, decision making, risk assessment and impulse control are not fully developed in the teen years, and this is totally normal. So when a teen drinks heavily or uses drugs, these already unstable skills can be further disrupted. Poor judgment can mean a teen boy jumps into a fist fight while high on meth. Poor risk assessment can mean a teen girl believes she is sober enough to walk home alone at night. Poor impulse control can mean teens having unprotected sex after drinking too much. Teens can make bad decisions in any of these situations when sober. But when you add alcohol or drugs things can quickly become dangerous.

Drug Treatment for Teens

When a teen has a problem with drugs or alcohol, it’s time for treatment. Bargaining, discipline or punishment won’t make them stop. Specialized treatment programs and rehab centers focus on the things your teen needs the most- connection with peers and privacy to protect his or her emerging sense of self. Because teen drug and alcohol abuse is rarely an isolated problem, family participation is an important part of treatment. Many teens with addiction come from homes marked by chaos, conflict, frequent transitions, parenting that is either too strict or too permissive, or a family history of addiction. Family treatment addresses these core issues by helping family members learn to communicate and care for each other in healthy ways.

Finding Help for Teen Addiction

The evidence that teen addiction is more dangerous than previously believed is overwhelming. Teens with drug and alcohol problems need early intervention and treatment. Help your teen turn their life around and get started with drug and alcohol rehab today. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available options.

Addiction i a trap

Drug Overdose Death: Turning Tragedy into Hope

Aaron Selchow of Los Gatos, California, lost his best friend to a car accident during his senior year of high school. Over the next three years, Selchow self-medicated his grief with drugs and alcohol until July, 2010, when, according to Mercury News, he overdosed on methadone and died at the age of 20.[1] His friends were devastated, just as he had been when he lost his own best friend years earlier. But rather than succumb to drugs and alcohol to treat their depression, they have chosen a different route.

Fighting Drug Addiction and Drug Overdose with Organization and Hope

Woman contemplating death of friendMelissa Barnes, 19, is a friend of Selchow’s. “We lost Aaron because of drugs,” said Barnes. “Now we want to go out there and tell his story.” Barnes is president of Rally for Addiction. She and five other friends of Selchow started the organization in the hopes that they can speak to young people in a way that other organizations aimed at teen drug abuse but that are run by adults cannot.

Jessica Snee, 17, is vice president of Rally. “We have to figure out how to get into people’s heads,” she commented. “They need to realize what they’re doing and want to stop for themselves, not for us.”

On October 28, the group will hold a candlelight vigil at Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos. The goal of the vigil is to promote awareness and to give others in the community an opportunity to remember loved ones lost to drug addiction.[2] “We want people to understand that drug addiction has to be out in the open,” said Barnes. “You don’t need to be ashamed. This is something that is killing our youth, and we need to unite to fight it.”

Support the Fight Against Teen Drug Addiction and Overdose

Vigils like this one cost money, and Rally members are working hard to raise the $5000 they need to hold the vigil by the date of the event. Because Selchow was a skateboarder, Rally members approached Jimbo Phillips, a Santa Cruz skateboard artist, who offered to design a board in memory of Selchow well below cost so that they can raise money for the event.

Their website, RallyForAddiction.com, makes these boards available to anyone who would like to support their cause. The design features a skull with dog tags rising from a grave with Selchow’s name, and the words “Remember Our Fallen Brother” and “You only get one chance at life.”

Get Help for Those You Love: Drug Addiction Intervention

If someone you love is addicted to drugs and alcohol, don’t let another day pass without trying to get him the help he needs. Drug intervention is one way to communicate to your loved one that his drug and alcohol abuse is deadly and reaching a crisis point.[3] By holding an intervention, you can help your loved one understand that drug and alcohol rehab is the only way to begin the journey to recovery.

If you need help finding a professional interventionist or a place for your loved one in drug rehab, contact us at Michael’s House today.

[1] Patty Fisher. “Fisher: Remembering Their Friends by Trying to Save Others,” Mercury News, October 3, 2010. Accessed March 29, 2017. http://www.mercurynews.com/2010/10/03/fisher-remembering-their-friend-by-trying-to-save-others/

[2] The Mayo Clinic. “Drug Addiction,” December 5, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2017.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/definition/con-20020970

[3] The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. “Intervention- Tips and Guidelines,” July 25, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2017. https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines

Drug Addiction Education for Parents

When it comes to teen drug addiction, prevention usually comes in the form of talking to teenagers about the dangers and health issues that result when drugs are an issue. The risks of drug addiction, drug overdose, teen pregnancy, and disease through unprotected sex, as well as death due to accident or negligent behavior, are the primary focus at high schools, teen centers, and other anti-drug venues.


While this has had an effect on the perception of drug and alcohol danger, it has only marginally decreased the incidents of use and possession of drugs among teens. Perhaps another approach to disseminating information about the risks associated with drug abuse and addiction is to educate parents and caregivers.

Drug Addiction Education: Never Assume

There are a few assumptions that we, as a community, tend to work under. One is that parents are knowledgeable about the dangers facing their children. It is assumed that parents are functional themselves and if there were any drug use in the home, it would have been figured out long before the kids reached high school.

Unfortunately, children are often more knowledgeable than their parents about drugs and alcohol, their availability, use, and the risks of addiction. While arming teenagers with the information they need to protect themselves, it is helpful for those who are still straddling the fence to have parents at home who can reinforce what they’re learning at school.

Parental Drug Addiction Education Tactics

There are a number of different ways to get the information to parents that they need to protect their kids. Sending home flyers with the kids or emailing them directly to parents may be helpful. Including short informational sessions for parents at school events such as school plays, band or choral concerts, can be beneficial as well. Back-to-School Nights at the beginning of the year for parents can include a short segment on drug problems, drug addiction, what to look for, and how to help your child.

What Parents Need to Know About Teen Drug Addiction

There is quite a bit of information that parents need to know about teen drug addiction in order to best help their children stand strong against drug abuse. These include:

  • The mechanisms of peer pressure and specific things kids can say to stand up to it
  • What drugs look like so that they will know it when they see it
  • Slang terms for drugs and getting high so that they will know when their children are talking about it
  • The signs and symptoms of specific drugs of addiction so that you know what drugs to look for
  • Drugs that are prevalent in that particular region
  • Locations of local drug trade, such as where people go to buy different drugs so that parents can make sure their children don’t frequent these places

Increasing the communication between parents and teenagers starts with a conversation in which both sides are knowledgeable. Giving parents the same – and more – information to talk intelligently to their children can help them know the signs, know what to look and listen for and help their kids avoid dangerous places.

5 Most Commonly Abused Drugs by High School Students Then and Now

Teens using drugs

In the forty years since the seventies, bell bottoms morphed into skinny jeans, disco gave way to electronic dance music and teens smoked less pot. But trend watchers know, there’s nothing like time to make something old seem new again.

The Monitoring the Future survey, which has tracked teen substance use every year since 1975, shows usage rates for many drugs are at the lowest level in the survey’s history. Such good news is only part of the story. Experts warn teens need truthful information about drug dangers to keep certain drugs from becoming popular again.[1]

Fortunately, education about addictive substances hits the mark in many communities. Educators and community officials are more sophisticated in the way they discuss drugs and alcohol and drug use rates are down as a result. Instead of scare tactics and emotional manipulation that offer incomplete information, education efforts are more factual to give teens get a fuller picture.[2]

Teens and Drugs: Decades of Use

Teens experiment and their dabbling is a necessary but risky part of growing up. When teens experiment with drugs and alcohol, however, the costs are high. Teen brains react more efficiently to drugs, putting them in danger of addiction and other health problems.[3]

As the number of teens with substance problems falls, it’s easy for teens to be complacent about drug use since they’re not seeing as many peers use drugs and experience negative consequences. Highlighting drug trends plays a role in keeping kids informed. More than 40 years ago, overall substance use rates were higher. After dropping in the 1980s, rates rose again in the 1990s. Researchers believe it’s important to spread messages about drug risks at all times, because of the tendency of teens to use substances when they believe it’s not harmful.1

Teens using drugsMany factors lead to substance use and addiction, but researchers still debate how much impact peer pressure has versus societal pressures. Studies show a strong correlation between hanging out with kids who use drugs and drug use. The impact of friends on a teen can be greater than cultural norms, family relationships or education programs.[4]

Still, falling drug trends show communities are learning from past mistakes. Some researchers believe false messages spread about drugs in the 1960s led to higher rates of experimentation in the 1970s. Drug availability grew in the 1960s – marijuana and heroin use rose and Harvard professors promoted the use of LSD. To discourage teens from using marijuana, teachers and community leaders told them it caused acne, blindness and sterility. Teens associated these messages with manipulation and felt more comfortable trying the drug.[5]

In the 1970s, more teens reported trying drugs and alcohol than today’s teens. The most commonly used drug by high school seniors in 1975 (% who have tried the drug) were the following:1

  1. Marijuana (47.3%)
  2. Amphetamines (22.3%)
  3. Sedatives (18.2%) (drugs including barbiturates such as Nembutal (phenobarbital))
  4. Tranquilizers (17.0%) (drugs including Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan)
  5. LSD (11.3%)
  6. Cocaine (9.0%)

By 2016, drug use trends varied significantly. After a cocaine epidemic in the 1980s, teens tried more hallucinogens in the 1990s, particularly LSD. The number of teens trying drugs in all categories is significantly down from the 1970s, the only exception is marijuana use. The following are the most commonly tried drugs for 2016:[6]

  1. Marijuana (44.5%)
  2. Amphetamines (10%)
  3. Narcotics other than heroin (Oxycontin, Vicodin, etc.) (7.8%)
  4. Tranquilizers (7.6%)
  5. Hallucinogens (6.7%)
  6. Sedatives (5.2%)

Opiates and inhalants made significant gains over the past several years, and marijuana continues to remain on top of the list. Also, the amphetamines kids took in 1975 were traditional “uppers,” but in 2016more amphetamine use included crystal meth – a far more dangerous drug.

Any teen struggling with drug abuse needs help immediately.Contact the admissions coordinators Michael’s House today to learn more about options in your area as well as special programs designed specifically for teens.


[1] Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2017). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2016: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Retrieved Mar. 7, 2017 from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2016.pdf.

[2] Malich, Sarah & Stone, Molly. (2015). Why Scare Tactics Don’t Work. Power Point presentation at People, Partnerships, Possibilities. Retrieved Mar. 7, 2017 from http://www.dhhr.wv.gov/bhhf/ibhc/Documents/Presentations1115/Scare%20Tactics%20BH%20conference%20%2082115.pdf.

[3] Fuhrmann, Delia; Knoll, Lisa J.; & Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne. (2015). Adolescence as a Sensitive Period of Brain Development. Trends in Cognitive Science. Retrieved Mar. 7, 2017 from http://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/fulltext/S1364-6613(15)00172-2.

[4] Mason, M.J., Mennis, J., Linker, J. et al. (2014). Peer Attitudes Effects on Adolescent Substance Use: The Moderating Role of Race and Gender. Prevention Science. Retrieved Mar. 7, 2017 from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11121-012-0353-7.

[5] Robison, Jennifer. (2002). Decades of Drug Use: Data From the ’60s and ’70s. Gallup. Retrieved Mar. 6, 2017 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/6331/decades-drug-use-data-from-60s-70s.aspx.

[6] Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., &Bachman, J. G. (1998). National Survey Results on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Survey, 1975-1997. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Retrieved Mar. 7, 2017 from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-vol1_1997.pdf.

5 problems associated with teen alcohol and drug addiction

Teenagers and adolescents who have an alcohol or drug abuse problem are putting their long-term health at great risk. From the ages of 12 through 20 years old, a young person’s body is in transition. Drugs and alcohol alter the system during this crucial period of change and can affect the body adversely in a number of ways, including:

  1. The liver: Young people don’t develop cirrhosis of the liver generally, but the damage they do to their liver during periods of heavy drinking can greatly raise the risk of liver damage as adults.
  2. The immune system: Research has shown that use of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and crystal meth all affect the development of the immune system, making it difficult for the individual fight off infection as they get older.
  3. Bone development: Studies have found that boys who drink excessively during their early teen years experience stunted growth more often than those who do not consume alcohol.
  4. The limbic system: Drugs and alcohol alter the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls the release of pleasure and reward. Changes to the limbic system during adolescence will stay with that individual, and potentially get worse, throughout the rest of their lives.
  5. The endocrine system: Alcohol abuse as a teenager has a direct effect on that person’s ability to reproduce later in life. That is because of the adverse reaction of the endocrine system – which controls the development of the testes and ovaries – to alcohol.

If you know a young person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, contact an addiction treatment center that understands the special needs of teenagers and their families. Michael’s House treats adults ages 18+ with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. If you are looking to help an adolescent with the issues discussed in this article, SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a great resource.